by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton set forth his goals for the LAPD for the coming year in a community forum summit at the United Methodist Church last December 4.
“My goals are the same thing they were five years ago when I first took over [as Police Chief],” said Bratton. “Crime reduction, crime prevention, and continue to work in partnership with the community.”
Bratton was re-appointed as police chief last summer. He said that crime figures since he took over in 2002 are down. This year alone the number of homicides is down compared to last year’s.
The LAPD crime statistics reveal that overall crime in Los Angeles has reduced by 15 percent in the last year.
“We are in a good place where fear, crime, disorder should not be occurring in this great city of ours,” he said. “Thanks to all the efforts of all the different [police] bureaus we are in a good place but we’re still not where we want to be. We still have a lot of work to do.”
LAPD Assistant Chief and Director of Operations Earl Paysinger reiterated Bratton’s crime figures. “There are 74 less homicides than the same time last year [December],” said Paysinger. “That means 74 lives have been saved; 74 families that did not have to go through that pain; 74 probably young men not in jail; and 74 communities that does not have to deal with that horrible crime.”
Lessons to learn
Despite the crime number being down around the city, Bratton said he and the LAPD still needs to learn from this year’s mistakes. The police chief and the LAPD have been criticized this year for the May 1 immigration rally dispersal and the proposed creation of a “Muslim Map.”
The LAPD took a serious hit in their credibility on May 1 when police shot rubber bullets at protesters and journalists during the May Day immigrant’s rights rally in MacArthur Park. A number of people were injured including journalists covering the event. They have since filed a class-action lawsuit. A month later, Bratton admitted the LAPD’s mistake on the handling of the situation in front of the Los Angeles Police Commission.
Most recently, the LAPD scrapped a plan that would have mapped the city’s Muslim population after Muslim groups and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent letters to city officials protesting the plan.
“We are going to learn from out mistakes,” said Bratton. “We’re going to make the negative into good and create more forums so we can be active in that community. Next year, we are creating a Muslim forum so we can reach out to them.”
The forum also allowed concerned citizens to thank and vent out their frustrations with the LAPD.
A woman from Echo Park said she is tired of seeing the young people in her neighborhood be “racially profiled” by police.
“This is an entirely different police department,” said Officer Paysinger. “We have thousands of police officers risking their lives to protect and serve our community. We [the LAPD] have a process that if you or anyone else feels that they are being [racially] targeted to complain against that officer.”
Police Commissioner Alan J. Skobin agreed. He said that’s a reason why they are trying to add more in-car cameras on police vehicles. “We want these in-car cameras so it can provide a proper check on our police officers,” he said.
Another concern that citizens expressed during the forum was gangs in their neighborhood.
Paysinger said that the LAPD with the help from the City Attorney’s office, have placed several gang injunctions and civil abatement programs that would make it illegal for gangs to congregate. He added that the best way to combat gangs starts at home and in the community.
He said that the LAPD has an Explorer Recruit Academy program to “shape young men and women into fine individuals.” Paysinger added that the parent’s needs to do their job too.
“We [LAPD] have to do a better job but we still need a lot of help from the community, and gang intervention specialists,” said Paysinger. “There’s only so much this badge can take us. We need all the help we can get.” (For more information about LAPD recruitment and/ or the Explorers Program please go to http://www.lapdonline.org.)